Tuesday, 19 May 2015

One hundred and eighty!!!

"That looks like the right place......doesn't it? Shall I aim for there? I'll give it a go.......oh I'm not sure.."

This line of conversation would have been fine if it was indeed about taking a shot at a dartboard, but it was actually a nurse deciding where to put the needle in my arm to take my blood.

Now I'm not squeamish, I've given birth five times, I've had more blood taken from me than a vampire's buffet table, but I was becoming a little bit nervous.

I'd been at the hospital since 1:30pm and it was now 5:45pm I reeeeeeally wanted to go home.

My left arm was the first target:

Nurse: " a sharp scratch.....oh.......it's not coming out shelly *wiggles it a bit and pokes my arm* is this working shelly?

Shelly: "no that's not the right place......"

I glance over and make eye contact with the nurse, I felt like a magic act, tied to a board, the magician is blindfolded and throwing knives.

Nurse: "damn....I'll try the other arm.....*pokes other arm* "

The two nurses discuss the best vein to use, tie the tourniquet as tight as possible, then rub my arm trying to bring some life into it.

It's no use my veins have ran away, probably fearful for the next onslaught, but shelly found it and it's all over, bullseye!!! Reminds me of the game show iiiiiiiiiiiin one!!!!!!!! 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Top tips for Passport pictures for children

Recently I went through the process of applying for the children's first passports! It was a daunting experience not only because of the paperwork, which most was done online, but because of the cost!!!

Cost of a child's passport - £46 x 5,  
Photos - £5 x 5 
Secure postage - £8
Replacement birth certificates - £20 ( yes I know that's my own fault)
Extra grey hair - £7 in hair dye
Extra gin in a tin - £20 at least

Anyway no matter how well you fill the forms in there is one thing that can seriously delay your application - the photos. I had all my children's application accepted first time! So here's a few tips that I used to hopefully help your applications.

1) If your child is under five the photo booths will not be any good for taking pictures, My five year old just about reached the red guideline for lining up your eyes to the screen and that was with the stool at its highest setting. Have a look at Max Spielman or an online provider, paspic.com for younger children. 

2) Practice your child's neutral face at home before you get to the photo booth. We had a competiton of who could pull the most boring face. We'd go from happy face to bored face. It was great fun.

3) Spend a little time making sure when your child sits on the stool, that their eyes are exactly level with the red guide that is shown on the screen. Change the stools hight as needed and make it fun! 

4) Remind your child to look at the screen even when you step back out of the booth, I kept talking to mine as they were waiting for the countdown.

5) wait for the preview, if unsure take it again, remember you only get three attempts, I was lucky with three of my children they got it first time, the practice does really help.

6) I showered the children in praise after. After all, non of us like taking ID photos, so I got them a little treat after and they all said they had fun taking the pictures - job done.

7) When cutting the photos out, snip with scissors in one smooth cut.

8) use a ruler and the size guide on the passport advice to get the correct size. Also have a quick check that your child's photo lines up with the passport advice too, are their eyes in the shaded parameter?

Voila!!!! That should be enough to get them ready for countersigning. I had an extremely nice countersignortory who had to repeat the process for each child.....that's five times.....what a super star.

Preparing for posting

You can send up to four applicants in one envelope, but I phoned up the passport office and they said it was fine to send all five in one as long as I put a cover letter in explaining why. My explanation was because I didn't have multiple copies of my birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Also when sending multiple applications, I used a paper clip to hold the photos to the countersignortory form and the birth certificate. Then as I folded the paper in half, bringing the bottom of the paper to the top, I tucked the corner into the paper clip, this stops the photos from slipping around.

I then gathered all five applications together, put my birth certificate and marriage certificate on top and then folded the covering letter over it all, so the first thing that the person would see as they opened the envelope was the covering letter.

I hope my tips help and if you're going on holiday have a fabulous time! We're off abroad for the first time as family in a couple of weeks - I'm so excited!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


At 6am every morning my freezer has decided to start waking me up.

I'm not sure if it's feeling left out or what it's actual problem is but it's beeping......a lot. So I drag myself out of bed, stagger bleary eyed down the stairs and try and see what's up with it. Apparently it's telling me it's not cold enough. 

I open the door, everything is rock solid frozen. Great.

I silence the little bleeper and it winks at me, probably saying "see you tomorrow sunshine"

Damn thing, it's only job is to keep things cold, not make noise. 

Fast forward to this morning and once again the freezer is scerenading me to its "help me I'm defrosting" beeping - everything is still bloody frozen and I silence it with just a glare and sturdy kick to the door.

To be honest it's not just the freezer who's been loosing it's cool, I've been simmering like a pan of boiling milk. 

Parents evening was last night and all the children are doing well, but my middle daughter who is deaf, is still behind on their "levels". She's not going to pass her SATs in year 2 , so she'll be failing. Luckily her teacher is fabulous and told me, SATs are no measure of a child's capabilities, and she's helping her in small groups so she can hopefully finish the year on target. 

But of course I lost my cool, as soon as I start to talk about my worries about my daughter being behind, a tidal wave of emotion rises in my throat, then my eyes start to prickle, then my voice starts to quiver and bam, I'm in tears. Then I'm mopping myself up, of course I'm not wearing waterproof mascara so now I'm a panda with a snuffly nose and red eyes......smooth. Thankfully her teacher is great and I gathered myself and we chatted about all the great things my daughter is good at, like loving life and being the cheeriest child you'll ever meet.

I stumbled out of that consultation keeping my head low and ran into the new teacher i'd not met before, I obviously wanted to make a good impression, but as I was still recovering from the emotion explosion I started talking to her about the wrong child.....awesome.

And then after I realised my mistake, gathered my faculties I babbled out something to do with prosecco on a Friday.....no clue how this happened......then I made the crappy excuse of being flakey as I've got 5 deadlines for my degree coming up......mum too busy for children.....check.

I left, slightly haggered.

Today I was on full defrost, uni this morning, deadline stress, three school runs 3:15, 4:15 and 6pm, one very unhappy, tired son who decided to vent his anger at the world at my hair......with both hands.......I was beeping more than the freezer........not good.

Tomorrow will be a new day, maybe I won't hate the freezer so much when it wakes me, it'll remind me to try my best to keep my cool even when the heat is on.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Inspirational breeze

Yesterday whilst on an evening's walk, it had become very quiet, we were mostly on our own apart from the occasional fluorescent clad, clomp, crunch sound of a lone joggers feet hitting the gravel.

As the track wound down to the choppy reservoir , we found ourselves at the base of a presentation of tall, sky scraping trees. So tall it was like the very tips were painting the clouds in the sky with every sway. Their leaves began to roar as the wind increased in strength, louder and louder. The darkess at the foot sparkled in broken sunlight as the tops bent and relented. Like a drum roll from nature the crescendo peaked and the trees relaxed, I stood there and watched as the dance began again, the children were running a slalom between the narrow trunks, flashes of their bright coats weaving in between the thick shadows, the wind pushing them forward, their laughs carried with the whispers of the breeze.

I could have stood there for longer, just listening, just watching the pallet of the landscape change with the speed of the clouds moving across the sun. As I walked on, a blast of brightness would alight the deep blue water into glitter like shimmers, each choppy wave adorned with a frosted finish, bobbing birds navigated the agitated water like corks under a running tap. 

There's something wonderfully peaceful about nature, I often wonder if I am a secret hippy, I could quite happily retire to a remote part of a hill and set up a farm somewhere, waking up to the sun and the wind every morning. But for now I'll enjoy it through fleeting walks, hopefully passing the enjoyment onto my children. One day that roar of the wind will be mine, and the shimmer of the sun will be from my eyes.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Canvaspop giveaway

There's one thing that I've always wanted to do but haven't had time to get round to it and that was have a picture of my children printed onto canvas.

I'm so busy also that even though I have a digital camera I barely use it, unless I know we're going out somewhere beautiful that I want to grab some high quality images with. So I'm a smartphone camera user and I'm lucky because my Sony Experia has a great camera.

It has been a worry of mine to get a photo printed from a smart phone photo as the quality would not be as good but when Canvaspop offered to print a canvas for me, I chose my favourite photo of the children that I quickly snapped before going to a party.

As you can see, the quality of the image is great and I am very happy with the print, it was easy to submit the photo and I was emailed a proof of the canvas to check and confirm I was happy with the final print. Delivery was fast and my canvas was on my wall faster than I had thought!

Now here's the good stuff for you!!!!!

35% off your purchase from Canvaspop with this code AND1MOREMEANS35 that is valid until the 10th June in the UK, US and Canada


One lucky reader will win a Canvaspop 16" x 20" canvas with a 0.75" wrap with free shipping also valid for the UK, US and Canada.

Fill in the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway, ends 28th April good luck!

a Raffleciser giveaway

Friday, 10 April 2015

Large family days out

There's a few things that you become used to as a family of 7 when having days out. It's not always the most obvious things you'd think of either, so here are my top signs that you have a large family.

1) Being able to smile whilst paying for ice cream

A round of ice creams from whatever venue you have been to visit can cost from just under £10 to an eye wateringly expensive £17. I have mastered the smile and steady hand as I hand over a twenty pound note for frozen cow juice.

2) Taking your own drinks everywhere

Thirsty? No problem! The car is always stocked with my favourite cheap and handy child drink. The cup drink. They cost £1.20 for 12 and I buy Sainsburys own brand, which are (non artificialy) flavoured mineral water. They're totally retro and I buy two boxes so £2.40 for 24 drinks......better than £1.40 for one fiendishly futile froot shoot.

3)  Have better location tracking skills than "find my iPhone" 

I'm like a nuclear submarine's sonar system. When the children disperse to various locations I can find them very quickly, not always by sight, but I can hear them........boop.....boop.......boop........

4) The ability to find the most fun places without paying £100+ before you even stroke a goat

Zoos, sealife centres, aquariums are all super expensive on admission prices. You can be savvy and book online in advance, look for two4one vouchers and my top tip, visit the tourist board shops for discounts on tickets. Anyway look for farm shops with play areas, nature walks, national trust buildings, seasides and other not so obvious places to visit, they're always the most fun.

5) Asking for a "Table for seven please........."  and getting no response *tumbleweed*

This is the case especially for small tea room style places that are attached to touristy hot spots, we get used to sitting on a table for 5 with extra chairs just to eat. Even at big restaurant chains if they're busy we've sat in a booth too small, it's an aquired skill but we manage, even if my elbow and left breast usually gets covered in sauce.

6) Eating only the leftovers.

You see it's all about the kids, so to cut back on cost and make sure we have more budget on the day out, hubs and I don't cater for ourselves. The children enjoy treats, ice creams, maybe a gift from the gift shop, or a snack for the way home. Hubs and I share a bottle of water and whatever's left from the kids lunch or picnic. Half chewed sausage roll anyone?

7) Mastering the "Who needs the toilet?" call

The golden question....literally...but when you have the call to go, you can't just go alone, a bit like the Borg (sorry I'm a Star Trek geek) you are a hive mind and the probability that one of the brood also needs to go is high. Ask everyone, every time....and don't forget to go yourself....before they open the cubicle door.

So there you go, a brief glimpse into the world of having more than the average number of children, it's great you know, and I wouldn't have it any different. There are ways and means to travelling and exploring different places as a large family, many people ask me how I manage? I say the same thing every time, it's all about a bit of forward thinking and planning, and it's always about the fun. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter eggventure and jug relays

"The Easter bunny is real...right mummy......"

At this moment in time I wish he was real, my poor son has been struck down by a vomiting bug which started at midnight. Nothing gets you out of bed faster than the sound of a giant water balloon hitting the ground type noise followed by a wail.

Poor boy had covered himself and the bed, which commenced the two hourly relay, that consisted of me staggering around with one eye open hoping to catch exorcist style vom in the trusty green jug.

I don't know about your household but we have a designated sick implement. It's a large, plastic jug, probably best described as a picnic pitcher in a summery shade of green. It is the right depth to hold a good amount of vom but also easy to carry, easy to clean and it lives in the bathroom like a sentinel of sick, on guard for your nauseating needs.

When I was a child, my parents had the yellow bucket. I remember when I complained I was feeling sick, the yellow bucket was summoned from the garage. It had fluid measurements inside and I always wondered if I'd ever make it to half way....that never happened but the bucket also doubled up as the car washing bucket and sometimes if I was really lucky there was a spider in it.

I'm hoping this tummy bug will pass quickly and he will enjoy his breakfast at church tomorrow and of course all the chocolate eggs that are coming his way.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend, here are a few pictures of what we've been up to.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Large vehicle reversing


A dusty old drain sucking water tank on wheels was trying to reverse around the corner whilst humping over the pavement. I was thinking what use is that silly announcement that spews out of large trucks as they reverse, especially when they are already on the pavement, with some poor old deer hobbling quickly out of the way like an out of control Churchill nodding dog.

Some trucks have a white noise type of hiss to alert you to their manoeuvres, similar to the type of noise your old bedroom TV would make whilst attempting a furious ariel adjustment before Friends came on.

I stood there and wondered what it would be like if there was a regional alternative to the reversing announcements:

London circa 1940's
"I say old chap I am reversing here, could you be an awfully good sport and move out of the way"

"Aye up, I'm moving lorry over t'road, watch out now, be reet nasty if you got in't way"

"hiyogh, I'm movin this truck, innit"

"Watch out now, this vehicle is reversing, please wait, I won't be a moment, many thanks"

"calm down, calm down, it's only a lorry reversing, like"

By the time I'd finished doing all these impressions around my local sainsburys store, I believed I had found a way to make large vehicles more noticeable. Put the announcements in the different regions!!! Imagine, you're just about to cross the road in Liverpool and suddenly you hear a manc lad telling you he's moving a truck, you'd move it sharpish.

So the next time you hear that annoying announcement coming from the back of truck, have a think about what your part of the country, or world would say, and let me know below.

My large vehicle is about reverse into the sofa old chap, chin chin!!